This is the sixth part of a fiction serial, in 1120 words.
On the Thursday evening before her weekend away, Lucy was packing. She had transferred some savings to cover the cost of the trip, and treated herself to some lovely new underwear, as well as a few items of adventurous make-up. The small lakeside hotel was almost one hundred miles south of the town, so no chance of her being recognised there. She had left her credit card number when she made the reservation, but had informed the clerk that she would be paying in cash. It had all made quite a hole in her personal finances, but two nights with Eduardo would be worth it. And she couldn’t very well ask him to chip in, as he had only just started to receive the full rate of pay after his re-training.
Tom Henderson watched Karen sleeping on the sofa. She was soundly asleep, and it seemed unlikely that he would be able to get her into bed later. He was on call tomorrow for the first time in three weeks, and was dreading it. If only he had someone he could ask to come and watch his wife, if he had to go into work. But their friends had deserted them long ago, and the remaining family members were all too old or infirm. He would just have to trust to luck that nothing happened that required him to investigate, otherwise he would have to give Karen a sleeping tablet. On top of her anti-depressants, that would guarantee she slept for so long, she might not miss him after he left.
Don Sinclair made the last checks on his motor-home. Oil, water, windscreen wash. He would fill up at the supermarket on the way to the motorway, as the fuel was much cheaper there. Despite the age of what he called ‘the bus’, it still soldiered on, and had given his family many happy holidays over the years. Jean had been in there earlier, putting up the freshly-washed curtains, dusting around, and stocking up the cupboards. She had also cooked some meals for Allan to heat up in the microwave. Lunch and dinner for Friday and Saturday, and a snack for Sunday, as they would be back in time to eat together that night.
Eduardo threw some creased clothes into a sports bag, along with a new toothbrush, and a can of deodorant. He deliberately left out anything smart or formal. When they got to the hotel, he would pretend that he hadn’t been aware he would need any smart clothes, and was sure Lucy would drive him into the nearby town to buy him something nice. He was looking forward to a couple of nights staying somewhere nicer than his stuffy rented room, and hoped there would be a mini-bar, and complimentary toiletries. He had heard about Room Service, and was excited to think about being able to order what he wanted, and have it delivered to his room. Almost twenty-five years old, he had never once stayed in a hotel.
Allan Sinclair didn’t like it when his parents went away and left him. It wasn’t that he was scared of being in the house alone as such, but he did fear loneliness. He liked to have his Mum and Dad around, as it helped to know they were just downstairs, or next door in their bedroom. But he was too old for trips in the motor-home now, and found it dull and familiar. He never told them he hated to be alone, as he didn’t want them to feel that they couldn’t go away on their short holidays. They provided everything, looked after him, and never demanded too much of their son. They had worked with him to keep his secret too. Nobody knew that he had gone to a ‘special’ school. Friends and neighbours were oblivious to his learning difficulties, poor writing skills, and extreme shyness. As far as anyone knew, he made the commute into the city every day, and went to the Technical School there. Nobody close to them had children at that school, so it had been a good cover story. Mum had driven him to his very different school in the mornings, and once he had been old enough, he would get the bus home. He always sat in the same seat, looking at nothing, talking to nobody. But school was over for him now, and an uncertain future lay ahead.
Music was his salvation from everyday life. He could lose himself in the regular beats, not having to think about what would happen when he was older. He was unlikely to ever be able to work. In addition to the poor reading and writing, he was barely able to communicate with people other than his parents. He worried that Mum and Dad were ashamed of their son, but nothing they ever said or did betrayed anything except love and affection. They were proud and private people, not about to discuss the limitations of their son’s intellect with friends and neighbours, however pleasant they seemed. They maintained the facade of normality, with carefully constructed excuses and lies. For his part, Allan kept away from most other people, lest the truth become evident, and the lies discovered. Mum would sit on his bed, stroking the hair that was always a little too long. “Just the three of us, Allan love. That’s all we need”. He had heard her say that so many times. Comforting, reassuring.
Alexander Conroy was in a very good mood on that Thursday evening. All being well, it would be done tomorrow. The sooner the better, as he didn’t want to chance the possibility of Don and Jean returning home unexpectedly early, after a change in the weather, or a problem with the motor-home. Lucy had chatted excitedly about her trip to the city, droning on about the chances of earning a good part-time income from a franchise in the slimming club. He had wondered why she would bother. After all, he earned enough that she didn’t have to work, and she only worked with the animals because she couldn’t have pets at home. She also claimed that she liked to have her own money, and didn’t want to have to ask him to transfer funds into her account. He was unconcerned about this new idea. If she got another part-time job, she would be out more often, and that was fine by him.
Before they went to bed that night, he had to calm himself down.
He could not allow juvenile excitement and emotion to divert him from the job in hand tomorrow.
To be continued…